Fairfield University to host world premiere exhibition and symposium focusing on creative intention by photographers of Greek antiquities


Fairfield University presents the world premiere exhibition of "The Creative Photograph in Archaeology - from the Traveling Photographers of the 19th Century to the Creative Photography of the 20th Century." The exhibition opens at the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, Thursday, Sept. 27 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 9. A select group of famous photographers is represented, including William Stillman, Frederic Boissonnas, Walter Hege, Herbert List, Goesta Hellner and Socratis Mavrommatis.

Coinciding with the Sept. 27 exhibition opening is a half-day symposium from 1-5 p.m. in the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Quick Center. The symposium features Greek and American scholars as well as noted photographers and will conclude prior to the opening reception at the gallery from 5-7 p.m. Admission to the exhibition is free. The symposium is free and seating is limited. Reservations are required.

This unprecedented exhibition is curated by Costis Antoniadis, professor of photography at the Technological Educational Institution of Athens, and organized by Mr. Mavrommatis, chief photographer of the Acropolis Restoration Service and the Benaki Museum in Athens, in collaboration with Professor Katherine Schwab, associate professor of Art History in the Fairfield University Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

The collection includes more than 70 stunningly dramatic black and white framed prints featuring Greek antiquities that have been produced from high resolution scans of the original negatives. The exhibition is divided into five units that span 150 years and visually portray the bold story of the delicate balance between documentation and creative vision in photographs with antiquities as the subject - from the first photographic attempts of the early travelers in the 19th century through the sophisticated work of the late 20th to early 21st century.

Mr. Mavrommatis explained, "We are very fortunate to be able to display photographs of the finest quality, as the photographers would have demanded." He continued, "In organizing the exhibition I followed the work of photographers that attempted to impose a new approach over a long period of time. I made choices that serve two purposes: the abilities of archaeological photography to emphasize its artistic contribution and the photographer's ability to combine his own view of the same information."

In discussing the decision to use photographs of exclusively Greek antiquities, Mr. Mavrommatis noted, "Each place has its own fascination, each site is different and these differences clearly affected each photographer's aesthetic and emotional approach." He added, "Greece is the only place where all the photographers represented in the exhibition worked and, clearly, location and culture are shared by all. We can see vividly how each photographer's individual artistic approach differs from one another."

"The Creative Photograph in Archaeology" marks the second collaboration between Mr. Mavrommatis and Fairfield University. Previously, the university hosted the well-attended photographic exhibition, "Acropolis Restoration Project: Photographs by Socratis Mavrommatis" in Sept.-Dec. 2004.

"The Creative Photograph in Archaeology" Symposium
The symposium is funded from the University's Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor Schwab, organizer of the event, has assembled a distinguished group of scholars and photographers as participants in the symposium.

Speakers and respondents include:

Mr. Mavrommatis; Professor Kevin Glowacki, Texas A&M University; Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Wesleyan University; Professor Schwab and Dr. Diana Mille, Fairfield University; Mr. Philip Trager, fine art photographer; and Dr. Claire Lyons, Getty Research Institute. In addition, Dr. Orin L. Grossman, Fairfield's Academic Vice President will provide opening remarks, and the university's Art History faculty will serve as presiders at the symposium.

Symposium topics include an archaeologist's point of view of the value in a photograph, how students perceive antiquities through these photographs, the ways in which the earliest photographers worked and differing artistic voices and approaches, as well as the distraction or enhancement of a photograph of beauty and its potential impact in archaeological research. Contemporary and future directions in photographing antiquities will also be discussed. For further information about the symposium contact either Professor Katherine Schwab at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2439, kaschwab@mail.fairfield.edu, or John Primavera at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2459, jfprimavera@mail.fairfield.edu.

Additional programming and events
The fall exhibition and symposium is presented by the Art History program of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and incorporates outreach from the University to area students and scholars as well as to the community. To this end, the faculty has scheduled a variety of courses that intersect with the themes and content of the exhibition. Furthermore, the exhibition and symposium will be of interest to the scholarly community and both professional and amateur photographers for the examples exhibited and questions raised.

Second exhibition - "19th Century Impressions of the Parthenon Frieze"
A second exhibition, entitled "19th Century Impressions of the Parthenon Frieze," will be on view Sept. 19-Oct. 17 at the university's Lukacs Gallery in the Studio Art program's facilities located in Loyola Hall. The exhibition will include a selection of 19th century plaster casts of the Parthenon frieze given by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the University in 2004. Also featured will be a loan of original albumen photographs by W.A. Mansell & Co., London, made in the 1870s and 1880s, which correspond with the plaster casts in the exhibition. Professor Schwab is curator of the Fairfield University Plaster Cast Collection.

Educational outreach to grades 5-8 in the Bridgeport Diocese
The educational opportunities the exhibition provides have inspired two school teachers at St. Ann School in Black Rock, an area of Bridgeport, Conn. Dawn Pilotti, an alumna of Fairfield University who is a math and social studies teacher and Elizabeth James, an art teacher, have designed a multi-disciplinary educational unit that coincides with "The Creative Photograph" exhibition.

Utilizing resources from The Acropolis Restoration Service in Athens, St. Ann students and, by extension, students throughout the Bridgeport diocese will be guided in the discovery of ancient Greek culture through art, math and history. Pilotti and James will offer a workshop for participating teachers at the Walsh Art Gallery, Oct. 4, in which they will present teaching projects that can be used with students in grades 5 to 8. Fairfield University will lend the Acropolis educational kits to the diocese teachers through St. Ann School.

In addition, the teachers have planned a photographic competition and a "scavenger hunt" for students of participating teachers. The students will have the opportunity to visit the exhibition and will base their own architectural photographs on lessons they have learned from the varying creative visions depicted in the exhibition photographs.

Two Director's Choice Series lectures focus on exhibition
As part of the Director's Choice Series, Dr. Diana Mille, Director of the Walsh Art Gallery has devoted the season's first two lectures, Oct. 3 and Dec. 5, to exhibition-related topics. Professor Schwab's lecture on Oct. 3 is titled: "Creative Intentions, Truth and Archaeology;" Dr. Mille's lecture on Dec. 5 is titled, "Creative Intention and New Vision Photography." In her lecture, Dr. Mille will consider the influence of European and American creative photography on the archaeological photographs of Herbert List, Walter Hege and Hermann Wagner during the inter bellum period. The public is invited to bring a brown-bag lunch to the gallery for the 12:30-1:30 p.m. talk. Admission to the lecture is $5.

Exhibition catalogue available with book to be published in 2008
An exhibition catalogue, edited by Mr. Mavrommatis, will be available in English for the exhibition. A book with contributions by an international group of scholars from Greece and the United States, including essays by Professor Schwab and Dr. Mille, is in preparation and will be published in 2008. A separate European tour of the exhibition is being planned and will culminate in an exhibition and conference at the Benaki Museum in 2008.

The Walsh Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11-5 p.m., Sunday from Noon-4 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays. For further information, please call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2969. For additional information on the exhibition and symposium, please visit the website The Creative Photograph in Archaeology.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 9, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 20